Reverend John Flynn
25 November 1880 – 5 May 1951
Just on the western outskirts of Alice Springs on Larapinta Drive, situated amongst the low rocky hills with the beloved MacDonnell Ranges as the backdrop, is the historical grave site of John Flynn.
Born in the gold rush town of Moliagul, about 202 km north-west of Victoria, his mother die in childbirth when Flynn was three years old. Having spent part of his childhood growing up with relatives, Flynn completed his secondary schooling in 1898 in the outer western suburbs of Melbourne, and began working as a schoolteacher. By 1903 he had made the decision to become a Presbyterian minister, becoming ordained in 1911 and taking up his first appointment at Beltana Mission in the far north of South Australia.
His training and initial posting after ordination saw Flynn working in a number of then-remote areas throughout Victoria and South Australia. By 1912, after writing a report for his church superiors on the difficulties of ministering to such a widely scattered population, Flynn was made the first superintendent of the Australian Inland Mission.
Flynn had began his missionary work during a time when there were only two doctors servicing an area of some 300,000 sq km in Western Australia and 1,500,000 sq km in the Northern Territory. As well as tending to spiritual matters for the people of the Australian Outback, Flynn was quick to establish the need for medical care, establishing a number of bush hospitals.
This was only to scratch the surface of the problem caring for people in the remote outback. The tyranny of distances and communication remained a problem with many people dying from the lack of medical treatment.
By 1917, Flynn was looking at the new technology of radio and airplanes and how to use them in providing acute medical service.
‘Flynn of the Inland’, the founder of the Flying Doctor Service, is one of Australia’s
John Flynn’s ashes was laid to rest in this small reserve
are laid to rest in the region he called home.
John Flynn’s Grave Historical Reserve
Lot 690, Larapinta Drive
TOWN OF ALICE SPRINGS (Reserve 995)
Footnote & References
- New Light on Flynn’s Grave by Erwin Chlanda, 8 September 1999, Alice Springs News – Their online archive includes an article on Flynn’s Grave, the return of the Devil’s Marble and what the Reverend Fred Mackay had to say… 8 September, 1999 Issue 0632
- On Line Opinion – Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate. Includes the article ‘A tale of two sacred stones’ by James Ensor (Director of Public Policy at Oxfam Community Aid Abroad).